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Chrysler Invests $35m In Emissions Cuts, Conservation

Chrysler Group invested more than $35 million toward reducing facility emissions and enhancing resource conservation in 2010, according to its first sustainability report.

The group, whose brands include Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT and Fiat, powers its manufacturing primarily from electricity and natural gas. It has replaced coal-fired powerhouses in group facilities with cleaner-burning natural gas, and operates a 200 kW solar array at its Saltillo South engine plant in Mexico.

In 2010, the Toledo North Assembly Plant paint shop – the most energy-hungry type of operation in the group – replaced 100 percent outside fresh air with mainly recycled ambient plant air. This achieved annual energy and water savings of $1.1 million, averting about 10,000 metric tons of air pollutants and reducing water use by more than 7,500 cubic meters.

Chrysler says an exterior basecoat application process used at several of the group’s paint shops deposits up to 85 percent of the paint on the vehicle surface, compared with roughly 55 percent using conventional paint-gun application. This has resulted in material savings of almost $900,000 per year, the company says.

The group’s Windsor Assembly Plant in Ontario has reduced its energy footprint by buying excess steam for general heating and production processes from a Canadian energy company. And Chrysler manufacturing facilities have converted to energy-efficient lighting, resulting in a typical cost savings of 50 to 60 percent, while producing a brighter work environment.

Chrysler’s environmental goals include:

  • Reduce energy use per vehicle produced by 15 percent between 2010 and 2014
  • Reduce waste generated per vehicle produced by 15 percent between 2010 and 2014
  • Reduce water use per vehicle produced by 20 percent between 2010 and 2014
  • Develop a logistics-driven carbon emissions tracking tool for inbound parts ground transport and launch it in 2011.

Its Trenton South facility was the first engine plant in the world to win LEED Gold status, the company says. The plant’s CO2 emissions are 12,000 metric tons lower and energy costs $1.26 million per year below that of a traditional engine plant of similar size. Chrysler says the facility also cut water consumption by about 5,700 cubic meters per year and diverted 91 percent of construction waste to recycling.

Chrysler says that limited water availability presents a challenge to the company, especially to plants in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. In response, the group says it has introduced programs to reduce or even eliminate certain water needs. Four plants in Mexico discharge zero wastewater to the local sewer and instead reuse all water for secondary processes within the manufacturing operations, or for irrigation. These actions reduce demand on the local aquifer by up to 750,000 cubic meters a year per plant, Chrysler says.

Meanwhile, the Windsor Assembly Plant cut water needs by over 68,000 cubic meters per year by using recycled process water and rainwater to remove oversprayed paint from the paint process booth.

This year, Chrysler’s Indiana Transmission Plant II achieved zero-waste to-landfill status, joining the company headquarters and the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance plant in Dundee, Mich. Other Chrysler waste initiatives include:

  • Use of recycled foam in seat cushions of the new Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles
  • Use of recycled nylon from carpets to make engine intake manifolds
  • Recycling of machining filters at the Mack Avenue Engine Plant
  • Recovery of paint solids for energy conversion at Jefferson North Assembly Plant and Warren Truck Assembly Plant.

Chrysler says it is committed to improving the fuel economy of its product portfolio by at least 25 percent by 2014, through reducing vehicle energy demand and increasing powertrain efficiency.

It plans to use more high-efficiency, four-cylinder gasoline engines in its vehicles. In 2010, Chrysler Group introduced its Pentastar V-6 engine in 10 vehicles, improving fuel efficiency by an average of seven percent over predecessor engines. Chrysler expects this engine to account for more than a third of the powertrains in the vehicle lineup.

And the group’s Fuel Saver technology on the eight-cylinder HEMI family engines improved fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. The technology alternates between a high-economy four-cylinder mode when less power is needed and V-8 mode when more power is in demand. In 2010, two-thirds of the V-8 engines Chrysler sold incorporated this technology.

The group says it is committed to producing vehicles that are capable of using alternative, renewable fuels. Since 1998, Chrysler has produced more than two million flexible fuel vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol, and has committed to making 50 percent of its fleet flexible fuel vehicles by 2012, from 40.1 percent last year.

Chrysler says it has allocated a significant amount of resources toward vehicle electrification and is developing technology that can be used in a range of electrified vehicles. The group is developing a Fiat 500 battery electric vehicle which will be capable of a 100-mile drive range on a single battery charge. It plans to design, manufacture and sell this car in North America in 2012. Chrysler also says it is actively investigating the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) with internal combustion engines.

But the report said, “At the same time, Chrysler Group believes there are many gains yet to be made in combustion engine technology at lower cost to the consumer.”

The group will integrate stop/start technology, which turns off the engine at full stops, into 90 percent of its models in North America by 2017.

In 2010 Chrysler announced two new transmissions that it said will help reach its fuel efficiency goal. It plans to use an eight-speed rear-wheel drive automatic transmission in passenger car and light-duty trucks  starting this year, reducing fuel consumption by up to 12 percent compared to current five-speed transmissions.

Chrysler will also use a nine-speed front-wheel drive transmission for medium-duty vehicles starting in 2013, which should reduce fuel consumption by up to 11 percent over its current six-speed transmission.

Chrysler says its research on vehicle energy demand focuses on vehicle weight, aerodynamic drag, tire performance, brake drag, driveline losses, electrical losses and heating/air-conditioning system inefficiencies. It is also researching vehicle applications for thermal management, which it says will be a critical factor in extending vehicle range for hybrid electric and all-electric vehicles.

Last year, Chrysler Group Transport, the company’s inbound parts carrier, replaced its entire fleet of 324 tractor trucks with more fuel-efficient vehicles. This achieved more stringent EPA emissions standards ahead of deadline, the group says.

The report received an Application Level A Check from the Global Reporting Initiative.

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